Virginia Dresher and Jane Allan Bowie Shaped the Lives of Women and the Community
Virginia Morgan Dresher was the warmhearted creator of The Dresher Foundation, which she founded alongside her late husband James. Before his death in 1999, the couple had been married for 56 years. When spoken of, the words “kind,” “generous” and “warm” were used abundantly.
In 1989, Dresher was the first board president of The Dresher Foundation, which, as stated on its website, www.dresherfoundation.org, aids nonprofits in Baltimore City, eastern Baltimore County and Harford County, to state a few. Originally endowed with $5 million, the foundation amassed $56.3 million by December 2013. Additionally, the foundation made grants totaling $26 million between 2002 and 2013, much of it coming to Harford County, including Arrow Child & Family Ministries ($20,000), the Boys & Girls Clubs of Harford County ($50,000), the Community Foundation of Harford County ($25,000), the Harford Community College Foundation ($100,000) and Faith Communities and Civic Agencies United for its emergency shelter ($95,000).
Among the list, John Carroll, a Catholic school in Bel Air, has received more than $1.5 million from The Dresher Foundation in the last 30 years, and several members of the Dresher family are graduates from the school or can be found on the Board of Trustees. Recently, the school received a grant that will be partly put toward the science laboratory built in honor of Virginia Dresher’s son-in-law Anthony and Virginia Meoli’s 50th wedding anniversary.
Virginia Dresher is survived by four children, nine grandchildren, two step-grandchildren, and 17 great-grandchildren. A number of her children and grandchildren remain active within The Dresher Foundation, which is headquartered in White Marsh.
Jane Allan Bowie was the daughter to Washington Bowie V, a J.F. Griener Co. civil engineer, and Mary McIntyre, former owner, editor and publisher of The Boonsboro Times. She was born in Baltimore and raised in the same Bellona Avenue home that she would later spend the rest of her life.
In 1964, Bowie graduated from Towson High School and went on to receive her bachelor’s degree from Hollins College in 1968. For a year after graduation, she studied at the Sorbonne in Paris. Between 1969 and 1971, she was an account manager at the Van Sant Dugdale advertising agency, and then she worked only part-time for a decade before being selected as vice president of marketing and PR in 1983 for the old Equitable Trust Co. It was there where she worked to establish the old Lady Equitable Race. Between 1987 and 1989, Bowie was the president of the Junior League of Baltimore, and she was the first president to work full time while in office, demonstrating her ambition.
It wasn’t until 2006 that Bowie began working as executive director of Network 2000, a statewide nonprofit founded in 1993 to promote advancement for women in higher roles, like executive and leadership positions. The nonprofit also provides women with guidance, and its members are adamant about gender equality in the workplace. According to a statement by Bowie, only 15-16 percent of publicly traded companies have women on their boards of directors, and it has been this way for the last decade.
Bowie was involved in a variety of initiatives that led Network 2000 to become part of the Inter Organization Network. More achievements include the founding of the Effective Mentoring Program and helping the company reach its five-year strategic plan goals. She was also involved in developing the company’s logo. Bowie was diagnosed with ALS in November and retired from Network 2000 last June.
In addition to her work in Network 2000, Bowie was active in the preservation of Lutherville, the culmin-ation of her work resulting in Baltimore County being placed on the National Register of Historic Places and being titled a Baltimore County Historic District. I95